A BALANCING ACT: HUMAN NEEDS AND
SUSTAINABLE RESOURCES

Countries are increasingly challenged to meet their citizens' growing material needs—fueled by rising populations and/or better living standards—and at the same time sustainably steward their natural resources. The 2016 World Population Data Sheet focuses on this balancing act. Some Data Sheet indicators measure people's ability to live healthy, productive lives; others measure resource management—and how mismanagement can harm human and planetary health. Together, these indicators give a broad snapshot of the state of the world's population, global health, and the environment

AIR POLLUTION,
PARTICULATE MATTER,
AND HUMAN HEALTH

Particulate matter (PM) in the air is composed of dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Fine PM (particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers, known as PM2.5) can lodge deeply in the lungs and is hazardous to humans and to the environment. Numerous studies have linked PM2.5 to serious health problems including irregular heartbeat, asthma, heart attack, and premature death. Particulate matter can also pollute waterways and damage forests and crops.

CHOOSE YOUR STORY
UNITED STATES
GLOBAL
INCOME LEVELS

Annual Average Ambient Concentration of Fine Particulate Matter (PM 2.5) in Micrograms per Cubic Meter, Average Across U.S. Counties

Notes: Large Metro is defined as 1 million population or more. Mid to Small Metro is defined as a metropolitan area with less than 1 million population.

Sources: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Particulate Matter (PM) Basics,” accessed at www.epa.gov/pm-pollution/particulate-matter-pm-basics#PM, on August 3, 2016; PRB analysis of data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Environmental Public Health Tracking Network, Outdoor Air, Annual PM 2.5 Level based on Seasonal Averages and Daily Measurement (Monitor + Modeled),” accessed at www.cdc.gov/ephtracking, on May 18, 2016; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, “County Typology Codes,” accessed at www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/county-typology-codes.aspx, and “Rural-Urban Continuum Codes,” accessed at http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/rural-urban-continuum-codes.aspx on May 18, 2016; and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Fine Particle (PM2.5) Designations,” accessed at https://www3.epa.gov/pmdesignations/faq.htm, on June 7, 2016.

U.S. AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENTS LED BY METRO AREAS

Air quality in the United States has improved since passage of the Clean Air Act of 1963 and its major amendments in 1970, 1977, and 1990. Stricter emissions regulations have reduced PM2.5 pollution nationwide, but rates of improvement have been fastest in metropolitan areas and manufacturing-dependent counties, which have higher levels of particulate pollution from motor vehicles, power plants, and industrial activity. Although rates of improvement have been slower in rural, mining, and agricultural areas, PM2.5 pollution remains lower than in metropolitan areas or manufacturing-dependent counties. And while air quality has improved, U.S. public health experts believe there is no safe level of exposure to particulate matter.

MUNICIPAL WASTE
VOLUMES PER CAPITA
RISE WITH INCOME

Annual Municipal Waste per Capita

Sources: David C. Wilson, Ljiljana Rodic, Michael J. Cowing, Costas A. Velis et al., “‘Wasteaware’ Benchmark Indicators for Integrated Sustainable Waste Management in Cities,” Waste Management 35, no. 1 (2015): 329-43; United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), Global Waste Management Outlook, David C. Wilson, ed. (Vienna: ISWA International Secretariat, 2015).

PRB gratefully acknowledges David C. Wilson of Imperial College London, Costas Velis of the University of Leeds and Ljiljana Rodic, an independent consultant in the Netherlands, for providing access to the latest data derived from their application of the ‘Wasteaware’ benchmark indicators to 40 cities worldwide.

Proper municipal waste disposal is a public health and environmental priority as urban populations grow. City residents without regular refuse collection services risk exposure to contaminants that spread into soil, streets, and water. Uncontrolled dumpsites taint water tables and release airborne toxins as unsorted refuse is burned. Global municipal waste data show that per capita volumes tend to rise with average income levels but negative impacts lessen as wealthier cities improve waste processing systems. While some cities in lower-income countries have expanded collection coverage, many still lag in proper waste processing—or controlled disposal. Collection in Lahore, Pakistan covers 77 percent of the population but only 18 percent of collections go to a controlled disposal facility. Lusaka, Zambia has 63 percent coverage and a 45 percent rate of controlled disposal. Recycling rates reach relatively high levels in some lower-income countries, often due to informal recycling networks.

INCOME LEVELS

MORE PEOPLE HAVE
IMPROVED ACCESS TO
WATER AND SANITATION

Percent of Population With Improved Access to Sanitation and
Water, 1990 and 2014, Select Countries
TABLE
BAR CHART

Source: UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO), 25 Years: Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water, 2015 Update and MDG Assessment (Geneva: UNICEF and WHO, 2015).

Access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation is fundamental to sustainable development and human health. Progress on water in the past 25 years has brought access to piped water close to home (the definition of improved access) to 91 percent of the world’s population, up from 76 percent in 1990. Of those remaining without improved access, nearly half are in sub-Saharan Africa. Sanitation status has been more varied, yet progress is clear. Whereas some countries, like Chile, already had good access that is now almost universal, other countries have made more progress on sanitation than water, such as Angola. Still, more than 2.4 billion people, mostly in eastern and southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, do not have access to improved sanitation facilities. And urban-rural gaps are sharp: Eighty-two percent of urban dwellers, but only 51 percent of rural residents, use improved sanitation facilities. Most developed countries have nearly universal access to water and sanitation.

AQUACULTURE
MEETS FISH
DEMAND AS OCEAN
CATCHES DECLINE

Trend in Annual World Fish Supply by Source and Fish Consumption per Capita, 1970-2012

Sources: Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, 2014 State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture: Opportunities and Challenges (Rome: FAO, 2014); and FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, “Online Query Panels,” accessed at www.fao.org/fishery/topic/16140/en, on July 1, 2016.

Seafood is an important protein source for about 3 billion people worldwide. Population growth, new ocean fishing technologies, and changes in ocean ecosystems have placed strains on wild fish stocks. Total ocean catches peaked in the late 1990s and the World Wildlife Fund estimates that the oceans contain half the number of fish they did in 1970. Declining catches also reflect national and global efforts to enforce sustainable catch limits. Strong growth in aquaculture has allowed per capita fish consumption to rise steadily, to a global average of 19 kilograms per person in 2012 from about 10 kilograms in the 1960s. In 2012, aquaculture was the source for about half (49 percent) of fish consumed by humans, up from 5 percent in 1962.

DATA UPDATES

Data updated on August 22, 2018.

Data updated on August 15, 2017.

NOTES, SOURCES, & DEFINITIONS

NOTES

The Data Sheet lists all geopolitical entities with populations of 150,000 or more and all members of the UN, including sovereign states, dependencies, overseas departments, and some territories whose status or boundaries may be undetermined or in dispute. More developed regions, following the UN classification, comprise all of Europe and North America, plus Australia, Japan, and New Zealand. All other regions and countries are classified as less developed. The least developed countries consist of 47 countries with especially low incomes, high economic vulnerability, and poor human development indicators. The criteria and list of countries, as defined by the UN, can be found at http://unohrlls.org/about-ldcs/.

World and Regional Totals: Regional population totals are independently rounded and include small countries or areas not shown. Regional and world rates and percentages are weighted averages of countries for which data are available. Regional averages are shown when data or estimates are available for at least three-quarters of the region’s population.

World Population Data Sheets from different years should not be used as a time series. Fluctuations in values from year to year often reflect revisions based on new data or estimates rather than actual changes in levels.

Country-specific notes include:

  • SAR stands for Special Administrative Region.
  • Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on Feb. 17, 2008. Serbia has not recognized Kosovo’s independence.
  • Macedonia is part of the former Yugoslav Republic.
  • Swaziland changed its official name to eSwatini in April 2018. This name change has been made in the Chart and Table sections of this site. In the Map section, the hover function of the interactive map displays the old country name of Swaziland. The map is based on a program that has not yet updated the name of the country.
  • (—) Indicates data unavailable or inapplicable.

    A date range indicates the most recent data point during that time period.


    SOURCES

    The rates and figures are primarily compiled from the following sources: national statistical offices’ websites, regional organizations’ websites, online databases, statistical yearbooks, and bulletins from various countries; demographic surveys such as the Demographic and Health Surveys, Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys, and Performance and Monitoring Accountability 2020 Surveys; the UN Demographic Yearbook 2016 and Population and Vital Statistics Report of the UN Statistics Division; World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision, World Contraceptive Use 2018, and World Urbanization Prospects: The 2018 Revision of the UN Population Division; the International Data Base of the International Programs Center, U.S. Census Bureau; World Development Indicators online database of the World Bank; AIDSinfo online database of the UNAIDS; and FAOSTAT online database of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. The sources also include direct communication with demographers and country experts from around the world. Specific data sources may be obtained by contacting the authors of the 2018 World Population Data Sheet. For countries with complete registration of births and deaths, rates are those most recently reported. For more developed countries, vital rates refer to 2017 or 2016.

    Poverty, A Deeper Look: Greg J. Duncan, Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, and Ariel Kalil, “Early Childhood Poverty and Adult Attainment, Behavior, and Health,” Child Development 81, no. 1 (2010): 306-25; John Iceland, Poverty in America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).


    DEFINITIONS

    Population mid-2018 (millions): Current estimates are based on a recent census, official national data, or analyses conducted by national statistical offices, regional organizations, PRB, UN Population Division, or International Programs of the U.S. Census Bureau. The effects of refugee movements, large numbers of foreign workers, and population shifts due to current events are taken into account to the extent possible. Projected populations based on reasonable assumptions on the future course of fertility, mortality, and migration.

    Population mid-2030 (millions): Projections are based on a recent census, official national data, or analyses conducted by national statistical offices, regional organizations, PRB, UN Population Division, or International Programs of the U.S. Census Bureau. The effects of refugee movements, large numbers of foreign workers, and population shifts due to current events are taken into account to the extent possible. Projected populations based on reasonable assumptions on the future course of fertility, mortality, and migration.

    Population mid-2050 (millions): Projections are based on a recent census, official national data, or analyses conducted by national statistical offices, regional organizations, PRB, UN Population Division, or International Programs of the U.S. Census Bureau. The effects of refugee movements, large numbers of foreign workers, and population shifts due to current events are taken into account to the extent possible. Projected populations based on reasonable assumptions on the future course of fertility, mortality, and migration.

    Births per 1,000 Population: The annual number of births per 1,000 total population.

    Deaths per 1,000 Population: The annual number of deaths per 1,000 total population.

    Rate of Natural Increase (%): The birth rate minus the death rate, expressed as a percentage. This value represents the estimated rate of population growth without regard for migration.

    Infant Mortality Rate: The annual number of deaths of infants under age 1 per 1,000 live births. Decimals indicate national statistics reported as completely registered; those with no decimal are estimates from the sources cited in the Notes & Sources. Some rates are based on fewer than 50 annual infant deaths and, as a result, are subject to considerable yearly variability; rates shown for such countries are from an average of the previous three years.',

    Total Fertility Rate: The average number of children a woman would have assuming that current age-specific birth rates remain constant throughout her childbearing years (usually considered to be ages 15 to 49).

    Gross National Income per Capita PPP 2017: GNI per capita PPP is gross national income in purchasing power parity (PPP) divided by mid-year population. Data for China Macao SAR, Eritrea, Puerto Rico, South Sudan, Venezuela, and Yemen are prior to 2017.

    Percent of Population Living in Urban Areas: Percentage of the total population living in areas termed “urban” by that country or by the UN.

    Population per Square Kilometer of Arable Land: The mid-year 2018 population divided by the square kilometers of arable land.

    Percent of Married Women 15-49 Using Contraception, All Methods: The percentage of currently married or “in union” women (unless otherwise indicated) of reproductive age who are currently using modern methods of contraception. Data are from the most recently available national-level surveys since 2000. Data for some countries are prior to 2012. Data for Argentina, Botswana, Canada, Czechia, Germany, Greece, Guam, Norway, Palau, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Uruguay refer to sexually active women, ever-married women, or all women.

    Percent of Married Women 15-49 Using Contraception, Modern Methods: The percentage of currently married or “in union” women (unless otherwise indicated) of reproductive age who are currently using any form of contraception. Modern methods comprise clinic and supply methods, including the pill, injectable, implant, IUD, condom, and sterilization. The inclusions of lactational amenorrhea and/or Standard Days Method in modern methods vary across countries. Data are from the most recently available national-level surveys since 2000. Data for some countries are prior to 2012. Data for Argentina, Botswana, Canada, Czechia, Germany, Greece, Guam, Norway, Palau, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Uruguay refer to sexually active women, ever-married women, or all women.

    Percent of Males Ages 15-49 With HIV/AIDS The percentage of the male population ages 15 to 49 living with HIV/AIDS. A value of “0.0499” indicates an HIV prevalence rate is below 0.1% (exact rates not available).

    Percent of Females Ages 15-49 With HIV/AIDS: The percentage of the female population ages 15 to 49 living with HIV/AIDS. A value of “0.0499” indicates an HIV prevalence rate is below 0.1% (exact rates not available).

    Life Expectancy at Birth (years), Males: The average number of years a newborn male infant can expect to live under current mortality rates.

    Life Expectancy at Birth (years), Females: The average number of years a newborn female infant can expect to live under current mortality rates.

    Life Expectancy at Age 65 (years), Males: The average number of years a 65-year-old male can expect to live under current mortality rates.

    Life Expectancy at Age 65 (years), Females: The average number of years a 65-year-old female can expect to live under current mortality rates.

    Percent of Population Ages <15, 2018: The current percentage estimates of the total population ages <15, which is often considered a “dependent age.”

    Percent of Population Ages <15, 2050: The projected percentage of the total population ages <15 in 2050, which is often considered a “dependent age.”

    Population in 2050 Ages <15 as a Multiple of 2018: The projected 2050 population ages <15 divided by the 2018 population for ages <15. For example, a ratio of 2 for those under age 15 indicates that the 2050 population for that age group is projected to be twice the size of its 2018 population. This indicator was calculated using unrounded population size and percent of population in designated age groups. Thus, the numbers may not match a hand calculation using the rounded population size and percent that appear on the data sheet.

    Percent of Population Ages 65+, 2018: The current percentage estimates of the total population ages 65+, which is often considered a “dependent age.”

    Percent of Population Ages 65+, 2050: The projected percentage of the total population ages 65+ in 2050, which is often considered a “dependent age.”

    Population in 2050 Ages 65+ as a Multiple of 2018: The projected 2050 population ages 65+ divided by the 2018 population for ages 65+. For example, a ratio of 2 for those ages 65+ indicates that the 2050 population for that age group is projected to be twice the size of its 2018 population. This indicator was calculated using unrounded population size and percent of population in designated age groups. Thus, the numbers may not match a hand calculation using the rounded population size and percent that appear on the data sheet.

    ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

    This publication is funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) (PACE Project, No. AID-0AA-A-16-00002), and individual supporters. The contents are the responsibility of Population Reference Bureau and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States government.

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